Thursday, October 7, 2010

Emigrating to the US

I want to talk today a little about the details of the process of emigrating from Canada to the United States in preparation for another blog post I am going to do at a later date.

As anyone who is a regular on this blog already knows, I and my family have a long history of emigrating to the US either temporarily, or in some cases, permanently. We vacationed here as a family every year and we spent considerable time with my grandparents at their home in Elmira, NY. Before I emigrated, I had already spent an aggregate of three years of my life in the US, so I was already much more familiar with the nuances of the country (and the nuances of crossing the border) than are 99 percent of those who immigrate (including others from Canada).

Crossing into the US as a temporary visitor from Canada is easy to do. Unknown to most travellers, Canadians are issued a "paperless" B1 (tourist) or B2 (business tourist) visa good for up to 180 days based on the answers one gives to the border patrol guards. I never had any hassle whatsoever entering the US temporarily as a Canadian citizen and I have crossed the US border in this capacity a whole bunch of times.

When I applied for and got my position with Blue Seal Feeds in Vermont, I entered the US nearly hassle free to work with a professional agricultural degree on a Trade NAFTA visa; by far the easiest way for a Canuck to move south more permanently. I literally showed up at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo one afternoon with no appointment and all my paperwork in order and was processed in less than an hour. This is NOT what you hear in any media report talking about illegal immigration.

When Melissa and I were married the following year, we decided I would emigrate to the US permanently with the goal of becoming a US citizen. As such, we applied for an adjustment of status while I was still living and working in the US on my TN visa. About six months later, after much paperwork, background checks, and fingerprinting, I became a temporary green card holder. After a year, I applied to become a permanent green card holder, and after another two years, I applied for American citizenship and was sworn in as a US Citizen at the Davidson County Courthouse in Nashville in March of 2009.

Although the paperwork, fingerprinting and background checks were repetitive (and very thorough in nature), as long as one took care to dot the "i's" and cross the "t's", there was nothing difficult about gaining US citizenship except that it took fair amount of time and cost a little bit of money in fees. From the time I decided to adjust my status while still in the US until I became a US citizen, there were periods that it was more difficult and more of a hassle (from a processing standpoint) to cross the border and there were a few short periods when it was just easier not to even try. Again, the paperwork spells all of this out very clearly and it's easy to comply if one is thorough about going over the paperwork.

If this entire endeavour sounds kind of complicated, it is, but the entire point of the post is that it is often not HARD to immigrate to the US legally, provided one does one's homework first.

Some of you may find this background info kind of interesting, but I think ALL of you will find the follow up post I am going to do interesting !! :)


Sylvia said...

When can we expect this exciting post? :)

Laura said...

Sounds like you had a straightforward process to emigrate - proabably helped that you were willing to read the paperwork... so many people don't bother to check things out thoroughly...

Can you have dual citizenship? Or does the US require that you give up your previous citizenship? I've never considered emigrating (except in the winter, lol) so I'm not up on the policies.

Looking forward to your next post - don't drag the suspense out too long!!! :-)

Jason said...


Indeed, I AM a "dual" citizen by default. Although it hasn't always been this way, today one doesn't automatically lose Canadian citizenship by gaining the the citizenship of another country.

When I enter Canada, I continue to do so as a Canadian citizen. When I enter the US, I do so as an American citizen.

Jason said...


As soon as I get around to writing it ! LOL !!

lytha said...

Interesting post Jason. I was flipping thru my passport yesterday and realized it is not full of country stamps, despite going back and forth between America and Germany lots. I complained to my man, "Why don't I have lots of country stamps!?" He said, "Your visa is your stamp." Hmph.

Marriage is the easy way, it's true. And we're not thru yet with the immigration office (horrible, horrible place!), I have to go back next year and prove our marriage is real. They have all these test questions like "What color are your bathroom tiles?" to prove you actually live together.